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U.S. move to renewable energy alive and well on the ground at AREDAY

Posted by: april
September 1, 2010

By Alexis Halbert, Paonia Campus Management Team

August marked a strange and chilling event - even the glaciers in Greenland were moving faster on climate change than the United States government. But with innovative energy policy taking a backseat to mid-term Washington elections, one thing is clear: America is still moving forward in the transition to a new energy economy and the leadership is coming from the ground up.

The messages at the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) held in Aspen Aug. 19-22 were diverse and the tactics on how to communicate and gain support for our imminent transition to a new energy economy were varied. The momentum, power, and expertise of those who attended AREDAY was truly stellar.

Discussions regarding the important role of policy from the previous day's panels permeated morning coffee talk as I arrived on Friday for the armchair discussion between Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. The two discussed the importance of technological innovation, the primary role of energy efficiency, our world's increasing demand for energy, China's leadership in clean energy, the future uncompetitiveness of oil, and the need to correct current energy market failures and to bring renewable energy and efficiency to scale.  

Friedman ended with some unexpected sage advice to young people on how to move the new energy economy forward: "Get out of Facebook and get into someone's face!" (As all the real work gets done and deals get made through one on one relationships and conversations - particularly on Capitol Hill).

Most impressive for me was the conference's inclusion of how the choices we make in how we derive energy directly effects the life systems that sustain our ecosystems, economies, and communities. Friday afternoon's potent panels featured world renowned experts in the fields of ecology and ocean systems who discussed new evidence on the devastating impacts of BP's recent oil spill on future life in the Gulf and how overfishing, man-made toxic materials, and atmospheric carbon from burning fossil fuels has left ocean systems on the verge of collapse. The critical role of the world's forests to absorb excess carbon in the atmosphere and to provide food and critical human and wildlife resources was discussed in light of the alarming rate of international deforestation due to economic and energy resource pressures.  

Hats off to Chip Comins, Sally Ranney, and all those who put AREDAY together - these are the conversations and solution oriented strategy sessions that are imperative to America's future economic health, viability, and sustainability. These are issues that will make or break America for future generations.

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